Tuesday, 24 August 2010

An exploration into the Coloured market

(This article was originally published on Marketingweb a few months back. It drives home some key points that we've been trying to emphasise here on Bruin-ou.com since the site was launched, that the Coloured community is unjustifiably neglected by corporate South Africa and in so doing, is incapable of properly advancing in South African society today. We'd love to hear your views on this article.)

Fragmented, stereotyped and misunderstood, South Africa’s 4.4 million strong Coloured market is as big as the white market in South Africa (9.1% of the population vs. 9%) and yet so many marketers have made the mistake of overlooking opportunities within this previously disadvantaged group.

This is a shortsighted, given that the Coloured market makes up 63% of the total population in the Western Cape (Stats SA 2009), and therefore it is no surprise that so many brands that are successful elsewhere fail to connect with consumers in this province. To understand this complexity, one just has to start by looking at issues of Coloured identity. A debate rages around the meaning of the term "Coloured" - does it refer to a group of people lumped together in the past, and therefore share the same history, or does it rather refer to certain characteristics? It would seem that defining the term "Coloured" is no longer as one dimensional as many people believe it to be. As a result there have been books written about it, movies made and a number of blogs and social networking sites dedicated to the issue.

The Cape Coloured market comprises a diverse group of people. These individuals differ in terms of mindsets and lifestyle. Since 1994 this market has evolved and become highly complex, and is not the single homogenous group that many believe it to be. The Coloured market acknowledges their differences and thus there is a strong need for them to differentiate themselves based on their lifestyle and mindsets.

Strategy and research company OIL has conducted an in-depth study in an attempt to provide marketers with a deeper understanding of the dynamics within the Coloured market in the Western Cape. The study used a mixture of methodologies, including ethnographic research backed up using AMPS/TGI data; and insights gained from social networking sites. Aside from looking at the consumer behaviour and mindsets of this market, this cutting-edge study highlights key insights into this market and, most importantly, offers vital untapped marketing opportunities for brands.

In this study, OIL identified four segments within the market that aim to improve marketers' understanding of the Coloured market and help them create effective brand communication strategies. The segments are The Escapers, The In-Betweeners, The Achievers and The Silver Spooners.

The Escapers, referred to within the community as "gam", are a segment defined by the legacy of Apartheid. They are characterised by a so-called ghetto lifestyle with a tendency to escape their everyday reality, living day-to-day and with a very short-term focus. Escapers are loud and proud of who they are, and embrace the Cape Coloured stereotypes - from kombuistaal to passion gaps

The In-Betweeners are an aspirational segment; those who often find themselves caught between two worlds - the upper and the lower income communities. Although they are aspirational, they are not willing to compromise their lifestyle for long-term success. They have a medium focused approach by showing aspiration through the conspicuous consumption of branded goods. They embrace the term "Coloured" and focus on the positive associations of Coloured culture - from having a great sense of humour to having fun like no other culture.

The Achievers are defined by their success through hard work and determination. The majority of this segment comprise individuals who have fought through the struggle of Apartheid and are aware that their lifestyle has not come easily to them. There is a continued drive for excellence and success, especially with their children. Although they are successful, they still remain grounded in their community and proud of their background.

The Silver Spooners are the children of the upper income Achiever parents and live an affluent lifestyle. This elite segment makes up a very small percentage of the Cape Coloured population and has not been exposed to mainstream Coloured culture. They, therefore, cannot relate to the Coloured culture as much as other segments.

Even though there are various segments, these individuals share certain commonalities. Cooking and food are considered important elements for bringing a family together. There are a lot of Malay influences with the food prepared by both Christians and Muslims. Coloured families are very close and often have more than the immediate family living in a household. They also tend to live within close proximity to each other, as family is considered to be a strong support pillar.

Religion also plays a very important role and there is great emphasis placed on teaching children their religious values.

There is a shared desire for the younger generation to show status through wearing branded sneakers and "pimping" old cars, as opposed to driving the latest luxury vehicle. There is also a strong interest in English soccer teams, far more so than local teams. This can be seen with the English soccer branded paraphernalia within each household.

Due to the lack of research into this market it is not surprising that there are so many misconceptions and stereotyping surrounding the Coloured community. This market has the spending power of over R60 billion a year; therefore this is an opportunity that marketers should not ignore.